There are many different ways that recipes evolve, but one way is to deconstruct a common recipe and turn it into something else. For example, take a Caesar salad. What if it was a sandwich? Now you have a Caesar Sandwich. Or take a BLT. What if it was a salad? Or an appetizer? What else can you do with a BLT? Because I love deep-fried anything (see Crab Rangoon Wontons), I wanted to see what other sort of deep-fried wonders I could come up with. I love lasagna, so I wondered, what if I made a deep-fried lasagna bite? With a little tweaking, I ended up with Italian-Style Wontons.
I decided to start with a mixture of ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. These are what I use in lasagna and they would take the place of traditional cream cheese in regular Crab Rangoon. In place of the crab, I added finely chopped walnuts. In place of the scallions, I added fresh basil. And, just to tie it all together, I decided to throw in some sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. Their added sweetness rounded out the flavor profile perfectly.
I used a standard square wonton wrapper brushed with egg wash (use round wontons if you prefer). You can see my full tutorial (with pictures) on how to fold wonton wrappers here. The most important lesson to take away is that wrapping the wonton tightly is paramount. If the seams are not tightly folded, the filling may like out while deep-frying. And it’s definitely no fun to bite into an empty fried wonton. Okay, it’s LESS fun.
If you have a deep-fryer, go ahead and plug it in and fire it up to 375°F. If not, use a saucepan or Dutch oven to heat your oil. I tend to use a small saucepan so I don’t have to use as much oil. Either way, be sure to not overcrowd (too many pieces will cause a drastic temperature drop and lead to soggy bites. Not fun!) These will only take 30 seconds to 1 minutes to reach delicious golden-brown status. I flip mine once, but depending on your frying method you might not have to. Remove with a strainer or slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Italian-Style Wontons are delicious served with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping. It reminds me of toasted ravioli, actually. A fusion of Chinese technique and Italian flavors, hooray!
- 4 oz. ricotta cheese
- 4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ c. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
- ¼ c. finely chopped walnuts
- ¼ c. finely minced fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1 T. water
- Wonton wrappers
- Marinara sauce, warmed, for serving
- In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, basil, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water.
- Working in batches, arrange 5 – 10 wonton wrappers on a clean, dry surface. Brush all 4 edges of each wrapper with the egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger.
- Place 1 rounded teaspoon of ricotta cheese filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. To wrap, first lift and press the seams of 2 opposing corners together over the filling. Then, lift the remaining 2 opposing corners and bring them also to the middle to form a small parcel. Press all seams together and fold over the top where all 4 corners meet. If the wrapper does not seem to stick, apply additional egg wash. Repeat with all remaining wonton wrappers and filling.
- To fry, heat oil to 375°F in a deep fryer or a stock pot. Do not let the temperature greatly exceed 375°F or the oil may smoke and then burst into flame. Fry the wontons in small batches for 15 to 20 seconds or until golden brown. Remove immediately and drain on paper towels.
- To bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 24 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 filled wonton wrapper in each cup. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the filling is heated through, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.